Thanks everyone for your recent mails about Starlink, and sorry I couldn't reply earlier. Due to the large number of emails over the past few days (almost 1000+ emails received per day), as one person I will be unable to reply to all of them. So unfortunately I've had to send a general email to everyone.
First off, I'm sorry about the predicted timings being unreliable in the past few days. Maybe some of you saw Starlink, but many didn't. It annoys me this service wasn't reliable this week. This may be my second or third apology to some of you :)
I know many of you went out with friends/family and it was disappointing or even embarrassing. Some of you were lucky to see it, many weren't. I know it doesn't help you that other satellite tracking tools had the same predictions, or that this site/app has been serving thousands of successful predictions (per day) since May 2019 for Starlink.
A possible fix for many of the failed sightings has been made to the software, thanks to the guidance of Dr. Marco Langbroek (a world-famous satellite tracker, who was the first to photograph and popularize Starlink watching in May 2019), who had identified a possible reason for this unpredictability. I had previously assumed (like all popular satellite tracking sites) the satellite as a point that reflects sunlight. That's obviously not true, and after taking his suggestion, the results were very different. They now take into account the specific shape of Starlink and its current most-likely orientation (i.e. aerodynamic/low-drag). Most of the failed sightings were explained due to this mistake.
But I've been wrong before this week, so I won't guarantee any sightings. The mistake I described above was certainly causing many failed sightings, so it's definitely good that it's been caught and fixed. I certainly hope the future predictions on this site are now mostly correct, but again, I cannot make any guarantees. I'm trying my best, and this is not a fake site, but there are tonnes of factors that go into satellite visibility, and I can't control all of them.
Answers to some common questions this week:
1. The livemap and the results are the same. The satellites travel the entire world in 1 hr 30 minutes, so even in 5 minutes they can be over 2000 km away from you. And after 1 hr 30 minutes, they return back (not to the exact same point, but close), which is why they can sometimes be seen once at 9pm, and then again at 10.30pm. That's why it may look like the livemap is showing the satellites as very far away, or an hour before it's predicted, because they travel the earth every 1 hr 30 mins. Not always visible.
2. The number next to BRIGHT/DIM, e.g. "2.5" is the brightness magnitude: https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/what-is-stellar-magnitude. The lower the number, the brighter it is.
3. OLD/NEW labels: 60 Starlink satellites are launched about once a month, so NEW label is for the newest group of satellites, else OLD. These groups travel separately, and are numbered.
4. Yesterday's launch of Starlink is on the site/app as Starlink-6,7, labeled NEW.
5. The timings are always in your local time (including daylight savings). You don't need to convert them.
6. The results are the same within 50km, so a nearby city can be selected.
If you saw the full Starlink train (20-30 satellites), I'm happy you did, because it's quite cool to see! :) Astronomers are annoyed, but a large number of people and children have become interested in stargazing because of this, so maybe it all works out.
I thank everyone for being very patient and understanding (more than I expected), because there is good reason for you to be upset with the website/app. I again thank Dr. Marco Langbroek for his guidance in investigating this problem.
Thanks, and regards